GovTech in Focus: Top tenders & awards, February – March
Startups, we know that selling to the public sector is tough. In a monthly series, PUBLIC – in partnership with Tussell, the data provider on UK government contracts and spend – provides the GovTech community with the lowdown on the most valuable and exciting GovTech tenders issued by public-sector bodies every month – as well as the opportunities you might have missed.
TOP LIVE TENDERS:
Many of the top live tenders this month have a focus on health and social care opportunities. You have until 24th March to apply for the following tenders:
Hampshire County Council is seeking a supplier of Collaborate Robots (COBOTS) for robotic lumbar equipment – Radiotherapy, mechanotherapy, electrotherapy and physical therapy devices, used by care providers. This is a large contract worth up to £10 million.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is on the hunt for an evaluation partner that can research, test and develop a multi-agency advice service that will offer support, information and advice on the regulation and health technology assessment pathways for AI in health and other data-driven technologies.
OPPORTUNITIES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:
The DHSC have awarded a £456k contract to Telefonica (O2) for the ‘O2 Motion Data and Insights’ to provide insight on movement, demography, mobility-patterns of 30% of the UK population.
Robots with legs
The University of Strathclyde have awarded a £75k contract to Boston Dynamics for a ‘legged mobile robot, capable of navigating stairways and oddly arranged terrain, facilitating safe traversal’.
TOP CONTRACT BY VALUE:
The largest award this month came from Aston University for the construction of “Cyber Factory”, a 440m2 building to deliver training and support facilities focused on the programming of specialist industrial equipment. Novus Property Solutions Limited were awarded £1.85 million to deliver this project in the West Midlands.
Each month, we’ve been looking at the contract awards relating to COVID-19, whether issued to directly respond to challenges around the virus, or side effects such as the shift to remote work and infrastructure needed to support this.
Over the last month, a further 39 contracts have been awarded with a total value of £65 million to solve problems and boost public sector resources to help councils, government departments and the NHS. Such a high spend indicates the continuing need for solutions in this area, particularly due to the threat of new Covid-19 variants and a desire for the increase in remote access to public services.
Deloitte were awarded a £51m contract by NHS Digital to design and build a digital platform to support the Covid-19 National Test Service, supporting the digital and data journey for COVID-19 testing, currently amounting to millions of tests each week.
The East Of England NHS Collaborative Procurement Hub have awarded a £914k contract to Attend Anywhere for a telehealth video conferencing software solution for the East of England.
While not directly related to Covid-19 testing and remote communication, Form the Future C.I.C have won a large £2.2 million contract to deliver a skills and apprenticeship service focusing on business, educational establishments and supporting individuals looking to retrain. With a particular emphasis on boosting employment post-pandemic, the service will be dedicated towards increasing the awareness of apprenticeships and supporting careers advice in education.
If you are a tech company that wants unparalleled insights into the key government opportunities and trends, get in touch with us about how we can help – you might be interested in applying to our GovStart programme!
Using Tussell’s comprehensive database of UK public sector procurement and spend, you can get trends, analysis and live updates on the government’s procurement of technology. Essential for anyone looking to take a strategic approach to scaling up through public procurement.
Conversations with founders: How to build a GovTech startup
Ever wondered how startup founders decided to build their company? Or what experience they had in that industry that made it possible? As part of our research for PUBLIC’s upcoming report on the background of GovTech founders we interviewed 8 startup founders to explore some of the challenges and successes encountered when building a GovTech startup. To ensure a diverse cohort of experience and expertise we interviewed founders of startups across multiple sectors including HealthTech, PoliceTech, EdTech and CivTech.
While founders had differing experiences working within the public sector, most had attended business school and had previous experience as a founder of a startup in a similar sector. Those that had worked in the public sector before founding their startup had learnt from the challenges that they came across and used their experiences to build a solution. Here are the first four startup founders that we spoke to!
Slava Kremerman founded EdTech startup Zen Educate in 2017 after meeting his co-founder in business school. Zen Educate helps schools cover staff absences – a problem which was first identified by a family member. Having worked in banking and consulting, Slava had no relevant public sector experience although he had previously helped to build FinTech startups.
How to break into the EdTech market? Schools have autonomy that most public authorities don’t have and so are able to procure many products and services on the spot. Roughly 30% of their clients come through referrals from other schools that use their products. Having raised three rounds, Zen Educate currently has about 50 employees and Slava argues that prioritising values and passion over skills when hiring is something that he found to be important during his journey as a founder.
Formula for success? Attention to execution – constantly improving and delivering a high quality service.
One of the greatest challenges Zen Educate faced was the limited access to funding for GovTech companies, combined with lack of procurement opportunities.
Iraklis Bourantas, Co-Founder and COO of Novoville
Iraklis Bourantas worked for a software company, a tech institute and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs before co-founding CivTech startup Novoville. His family was deeply embedded in local government and his father and aunt were both Deputy Mayors. Being a politically active citizen, the idea for Novoville came out of his own frustration in engaging with the local government, and through his own connections he pitched it to newly elected, younger mayors, who loved it. Iraklis found that the best knowledge and experience came through working with the first couple of client’s and they adapted the product to these challenges. Through scaling into different countries they learnt that 80-90% of the challenges local authorities face in different countries are roughly the same.
Iraklis and his co-founder Fotis Talantzis personally funded the development of the prototype and raised funds after their first few clients in order to grow. They approached a local VC that was partially funded by the European Investment Fund; it took about 6 months to convince them to invest because they were weary of the GovTech sector and had a mistrust towards the public sector. For the second round they wanted an international range of VCs, and once again struggled to convince VCs about the viability of the sector.
Despite having won 56 contracts across 3 countries, Novoville’s biggest challenge was continuing to grow in new markets, and managing remote teams across countries. Iraklis told us that understanding the local realities of new countries often feels like starting a new startup from scratch and every time you have to convince new local stakeholders of the business’ viability and the sector’s potential.
If you could go back – what would you do differently? Iraklis said he would change their approach to hiring and prioritise hiring people who would fit in with the culture and mentality of the company. When it comes to investors, they regret wasting time on VC’s that were not serious which caused delays in the company’s plans.
Advice to new startups? Start small with one client, adapt your product based on the feedback from this client, and only then try to scale.
Daniel Mohamed studied urban planning and regeneration before founding Urban Intelligence. He previously worked as an urban planner for 3 years during which he observed many opportunities to change things. He claims he wouldn’t have known the the problem which his startup solves existed if he hadn’t worked as a planner.
Daniel didn’t have any networks in technology, venture or finance and admits that being self employed was difficult. To finance the business initially he took out two loans, one from a bank which he personally guaranteed, the other he received from UCL as a result of winning an entrepreneurship award. It took him a long time to find the right investors. When the company made it onto an accelerator, they weren’t VC ready by the time they graduated from the accelerator, and so had to go hunting for angels. Daniel argues that accelerators are good at putting you in touch with VCs but not with angels. He met an angel through luck at a networking event, who then introduced him to further angels.
The biggest challenges Daniel faced were having to rely on 3rd party public sector data, recruiting the right people with the right skills and building a good team dynamic, and raising funding. If Daniel could go back and do things again he said he would take a much leaner approach to building a startup as he regrets spending too much time on spec when they could have got an MVP out of the door much faster.
Most important skill gained? Emotional intelligence – to deal with the shocks and unpredictability of founding a startup.
How could the public sector change for the better? Move away from document based systems and turn plans into models that are constantly updated with the latest data so you can track things in real time and make predictions for the future.
Before founding Cyan Forensics, Ian worked as an engineer, consultant and CTO. After having spent time in business school, Ian worked with startups to help create businesses, raise money and facilitate university spin-outs. He was called in by Napier University in Edinburgh to assess some research to see if it had potential for commercialisation.
After deciding that the research did have potential he chose to spin it out with Bruce Ramsay, a key member of the research team, and Cyan Forensics was born. Ian found that his network contributed strongly to getting Cyan going and he knew where to look for professional services, legal and financial advice, recruiters, office space and other support. Cyan Forensics has won a major contract with the Home Office as well as several contracts with individual police forces, including some in Europe.
What needs to change? Startups need investors who understand the benefits of public sector markets – this could be achieved through greater dialogue between the two. If the public sector wants innovation it needs to be willing to listen to new ideas, and learn that they will not always be presented with final products.
Public sector bodies need to be willing to try new things, run pilot programs, and to become a good customer, because people won’t innovate if there is no reward. Investors will not back companies that are trying to sell to the public sector if the process is so convoluted that ultimately there is no return. A problematic public sector mindset is that ‘things must succeed when you do them’, which is incompatible with the startup mindset of ‘try something and see if it works’. Success emerges from failure – risks shouldn’t be taken in all areas of government, for good reason, but there need to be dedicated spaces for risk-taking if the public sector wants to support innovation.
Interested in hearing from more startup founders? Stay tuned for Part 2!
Solving the NHS staffing crisis: An interview with Patchwork
We spoke to Anas Nader, co-founder of previous GovStart company Patchwork, to hear about how they’re getting on since leaving the cohort and their plans for this year.
What is Patchwork and why did you embark on this venture?
Patchwork is on a mission to unlock effective flexible working in healthcare to solve the staffing crisis. With the rising tide of staff leaving the NHS in search of better work-life balance, vacant shifts are being filled by temporary staff from expensive recruitment agencies. This is costing the NHS billions it can’t afford.
As doctors and NHS managers, we’ve lived this reality ourselves. So we decided to bring our extensive knowledge of the sector and combine it with cutting-edge technology that we’ve built. We’re now helping fill hundreds of thousands of vacant shifts faster, easier, and cheaper, whilst empowering clinicians to work flexibly and give them back the work-life balance they deserve.
How are you solving the healthcare staffing problem?
For healthcare organisations, our bespoke service and tech saves money, time and effort, offers greater control, and creates an empowered and happier workforce. For healthcare workers, our app offers better work-life balance without impacting the NHS. Addressing both sides of this issue is essential if we are to retain the clinicians we need and prevent them from burning out, as well as protect the viability of the NHS for the next generation.
How far do you think you’ve got in solving this problem?
10,000+ clinicians across over 30 hospitals already use the Patchwork app, with over 1 million shift hours booked since launch. We worked with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on the launch of our initial pilot and the results were staggering. Chelsea & Westminster Hospital saw an incredible 90% of shifts filled directly through the hospital’s own staff bank as a result of the Patchwork platform, compared with 35% when using legacy systems. This meant a cost-saving of over £1.2m per year. If you think about the cost-saving implications of that when scaled across the whole of the NHS, it’s a game-changer that could dramatically improve NHS finances.
Tell us what’s new since leaving the GovStart program
2019 was an incredibly important year for the business. We were delighted to welcome new investors in recent months – raising £3m from Praetura Ventures, BMJ, and existing angel investors. This will provide the fuel needed to drive our next phase of growth. We’ve expanded our team to 37 and are proud of the talent, passion and commitment that the Patchwork team brings to healthcare. We’ve also launched new product features. We’re particularly excited about our new platform Patchwork Insights which enables Trusts to have true oversight of their staffing data for the first time.
Looking forward, what are your plans for 2020?
We are working with more and more NHS Trusts and other healthcare organisations every month and are implementing our technology with other staff groups as well this year. We take each new partnership incredibly seriously and work closely with each healthcare organisation to ensure our solution is tailored to meet their unique needs and goals. New products and features will also be launching, to ensure our solution continues to add value as the NHS’ journey evolves.
What advice would you give to early GovTech startups?
It makes a massive difference if you have lived the problem you are trying to solve. Our experience on the frontlines of the NHS means we understand the nuances and challenges facing healthcare staff and NHS management. That means when we speak to users or organisation, we can speak from a place of empathy and understanding. If you haven’t had that grassroots experience, take all steps possible to truly understand the lived experience of those you are advising and building tech for.
Want to join our next accelerator programme? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Earlier this month, previous GovStart company Cera Care acquired Mears Care in a deal worth more than £30m. The acquisition will boost Cera’s employee numbers to 2,000, with 20 offices across the country and the ability to deliver more than 10,000 visits a day. We spoke to co-founder Dr Ben Maruthappu about how Cera has grown since leaving the GovStart programme and what their plans are for 2020!
What is Cera Care and why did you embark on this venture?
We are a tech-enabled home care provider with the ambition of revolutionising the social care sector, supporting older people in living their best lives in their own homes, by receiving great & modern home care. We established Cera as it was clear that multiple parts of social care were outdated, leading to numerous challenges in the industry, from inefficient operations, to low-paid staff, from highly reactive care leading to greater hospital admissions and pressures on the NHS. We firmly believe that technology and innovation can help remedy some of these issues, which is why we set up Cera.
How does your solution help the elderly?
We have digitalised the full care process, from the on-boarding of users, to matching them to carers, back-office logistics, to reporting of care visits and real-time decision making via our online platform and App. This improves the quality of care and makes care more efficient, scalable and transparent. We can reduce overhead costs through our technology and so invest more in our carers, meaning they are better rewarded and valued, while using our digital platform to monitor care standards and ensure our users receive the best care possible. We also use data collected from care visits to predict and prevent health deteriorations in our users, with 83% accuracy, so we can be proactive in looking after their health, while avoiding hospitalisations.
How far do you think you’ve got in solving this problem?
We launched just over 3 years ago and have made significant traction, now delivering 10,000 care visits a day, with 20 offices across the country. We are the largest care-tech company in Europe, and one of the largest care businesses in the UK outright. Rolling out our technology has shown to improve user satisfaction significantly (eNPS scores increase by over 30 points). We also improve carer retention, health outcomes and deliver a safer service, while transforming the experience users, families, staff and carers have through offering a more modern service.
Tell us what’s new since leaving the GovStart programme
GovStart provided an outstanding foundation for us to build our startup. Since the programme we have grown to over 2000 employees, reaching national scale with over 50 public sector partnerships, and were rated ‘Good’ by the healthcare regulator, the CQC. We have raised significant amounts of capital and are fortunate to have a fantastic Advisory Board Chaired by Sir David Behan, and formerly, Sir Nick Clegg.
Looking forward, what are your plans for 2020?
We want to continue our expansion across the UK, acquire traditional care businesses that we can transform with our technology, and double-down on our use of Machine Learning to predict and prevent health deteriorations in our users, so that they can stay healthier for longer in their own homes.
What advice would you give to early GovTech founders?
First, invest in your team; having the right people around you who are committed to your startup’s mission is invaluable and will be what makes your company a success. Second, PUBLIC has a phenomenal network, with an excellent leadership team so I would fully recommend you reach out to them for advice on how to navigate the public sector, to forge long-term and successful public sector partnerships. Third, be resilient – building a startup that collaborates with the public sector takes real persistence and patience; there will definitely be ups and downs – keep going!
Home to a number of key investors and co-working spaces, it is no surprise that the Norwegian capital has a thriving startup ecosystem.
Endowed with rich natural resources, Norway’s economy has traditionally been concentrated in the energy and fishing sectors. But, falling oil and gas prices has led to a flourish of tech entrepreneurialism in the country over the last few years. Coupled with a government-led strategy to diversify the economy, Norway now finds itself as one of the most attractive locations for founding a startup in Europe. This is reflected in the rapid growth in investment over the last few years. In 2018, total venture funding in Norway reached just over €207 million, an increase from €156 million in 2017 and €136 million in 2016. Investinor, the government-backed investment company, is the most active funder in Norway, while other key investors include, Snö, Alliance Venture, Viking Venture and Skyfall Ventures.
The Oslo Business Region drives the city’s startup ecosystem through pilot projects and events, such as Oslo Innovation Week, Oslo ScaleUp Day and Smart Mobility Hackathon. The cornerstone of the city’s innovation strategy is the Smart Oslo initiative, which aims to deliver ‘a smarter, greener, more inclusive and creative city for all citizens’. At the GovTech Summit in 2018, the Vice Mayor for Finance, Robert Steen noted that ‘high citizen expectations have catalysed the city’s efforts in the digitalisation and innovation of public services’. The city has responded to these demands, establishing the world’s first smart city accelerator, SmartOslo, which connects innovative startups with the municipality. Nikolai Astrup, the Minister of Digitalisation for Norway, will be speaking at the GovTech Summit on 14 November 2019.
Co-working spaces, including Huckletree, Mesh and 657 Oslo offer opportunities for startups to meet, collaborate and grow. In addition, the Oslo International Hub and Katapult Accelerator bring together international founders and expats looking to build startups in the city.
Top 10 GovTech Startups
No Isolation tackles loneliness and involuntary social isolation by developing communication tools and robots that can help those affected.
TikkTalk is an online marketplace that offers businesses, governments and consumers access to interpreters over video and phone conference.
Otovo is a smart energy startup that offers solar panels and installation services for state, commercial and residential properties.
Hjemmelegene is an application that allows patients to book a doctor for home consultations.
Documaster is an information management archiving platform that enables organisations to compliantly capture, process, preserve and instantly access their documents.
Spacemaker AI uses AI technology to allow cities, property developers and architects to make better decisions when designing building site.
Urban Sharing provides a SaaS-platform for micro mobility and shared, urban infrastructure.
Versor – Versor develops software for truly autonomous drone missions, leveraging an expertise in edge computing to turn real-time understanding of the environment into sophisticated behavior.
Sammevei is a smart mobility startup developing a ridesharing platform, enabling commuters to share rides daily with those with similar transportation needs.
Meshcrafts is a cross technology platform for payment and energy management with a focus on electric car chargers.
One month after moving in, the team at PUBLIC have settled in and are enjoying life in our new offices in Westminster. Here’s what people are saying about PUBLIC Hall.
This summer PUBLIC and Huckletree embarked on a new challenge: to create a co-working space in the heart of Westminster which would be home to startups aiming to improve the public sector. The result is PUBLIC Hall, a ground breaking new space directly opposite the Ministry of Defence and just down the road from No.10 Downing Street.
Speaking on PUBLIC Hall, PUBLIC’s CEO Daniel Korski, said:
“We launched PUBLIC with the aim of bringing technologists and government closer together. Providing a physical space, such as PUBLIC Hall, in the heart of government where they can meet will greatly accelerate this happening.”
Daniel Korski, CEO, PUBLIC
“We’re thrilled to a part of the PUBLIC Hall community. Being permanently based in Whitehall puts us at the very heart of government and allows us to ensure that our vision for the future; making public services universally accessible through plain natural language is heard and adopted far and wide.”
Andy Wilkins, CEO, Futr
One of the huge benefits to PUBLIC Hall is the proximity to Whitehall, and the ease for public servants and politicians to visit and meet startups – without having to hop on a train to Shoreditch. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, launched the official opening party and said:
“Public services can benefit hugely from adopting new technologies. PUBLIC Hall will provide a space where government and innovators can work more closely together, and is a vital step towards a more technology-enabled state”
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
“Being able to attend exclusive members events and meet industry leaders like David Magliano who spoke to us about building our brand has been extremely valuable to us as we prepare to launch our product in the UK. Being able to build a community of like-minded people who want to change the world has sharpened our focus and boosted our missionism, and we are excited to continue in this journey with PUBLIC and Huckletree”
Bhavin Kotecha, Chief of Staff, Caura
The view is echoed by Robyn Scott, CEO and co-founder of Apolitical. Apolitical moved from Mayfair to Westminster and Robyn believes the change of location has triggered a marked increase in the number of meetings the company has had with public sector employees.
“Nothing says significance in the digital world like a presence in the physical world, ironically. Just think about Silicon Valley, Silicon Roundabout, Silicon Savannah. It’s really important that GovTech has got this physical presence for all these digital companies.”
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” hundred_percent_height=”no” hundred_percent_height_scroll=”no” hundred_percent_height_center_content=”yes” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” admin_toggled=”no”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ spacing=”” center_content=”no” link=”” target=”_self” min_height=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”left top” background_repeat=”no-repeat” hover_type=”none” border_size=”0″ border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” padding=”” dimension_margin=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”left” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_offset=”” last=”no”][fusion_text]This week PUBLIC launched its latest report – ‘Future Technologies Review’ – a survey of the latest technology transforming the geospatial sector, produced in partnership with the Cabinet Office’s Geospatial Commission. The report highlights areas where technologies such as artificial intelligence, drones, Internet of Things and advanced mapping and scanning technology could transform industries. At the forefront of these developments are tech startups. Here are a few of the best and brightest companies utilising geospatial technologies to shape multiple industries across the UK. Gyana Gyana was founded in 2015 and is currently a global startup based in London using geospatial data generated by human movement to uncover previously unseen insights and aid business decision-making. Gyana works in a number of sectors including retail, real estate, and financial services to predict competitive market share, reveal customer behaviour preferences, determine physical catchment areas and analyse marketing return of investment. By combining anonymised big data generated by the movement of people with physical locations, Gyana derives consumer patterns, quantifies human behaviour, uncovers hidden opportunities and helps predict financial success. In The Future Technologies Review report, we predict that with companies like Gyana, the future machine learning systems will be able to find patterns in human behaviour far faster and more accurately if they continue to develop at their expected rate. Urban Intelligence Urban Intelligence uses data science to identify inefficiencies in the planning and development sector. The company was founded in 2014 by Daniel Mohamed, a planning consultant frustrated with the number of unproductive and labour intensive processes required to provide advice on development potential. In order to solve this problem, Urban Intelligence has built an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system which aims to provide a ‘credit score’ for plots of land, based on their sustainability for development. The company draws its data from a range of public and private sources, as well as their own, in order to gain an advanced view of the land market. Urban Intelligence are driving ‘smart cities’ to be intelligent all the way down to the land they are built on, with data being used to optimise quality of life in UK towns and cities.
Travel AI Travel AI is one of a number of companies using crowdsourced mobile data to provide transport insights to cities and local councils. One of the most anticipated uses of geospatial technologies is within the ‘smart city domain’ and Travel AI analyses data to provide cities with insights about how its residents use transportation infrastructure. The company has launched two apps – Catch and WeCycle. Catch is a journey planner which uses data to give better routing through using live travel conditions on all methods of transport shared automatically by the community. The anonymised community data feeds back into the journey planner to improve results and is available to cities and transport operators to help improve transport services. Similarly, WeCycle is an app which uses data to make cycling safer for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. WeCycle gathered data from a survey which was sent out to cyclists using the app who revealed their routes when cycling. This was used to generate a ‘community canvas’ which shows where and when people cycled, and where they had to share space with other road users, demonstrating where investment could have the biggest impact on cycle safety. The technology is particularly innovative as it is optimised to make intelligent use of sensors such as GPS and minimise battery drain.
Hummingbird Tech Hummingbird Technologies apply geospatial technologies to agriculture and farming. The company is an Artificial Intelligence business that provides advanced crop analytics to its customers. The company was founded in 2015 and use geospatial data to provide actionable insights such as weed and disease detection across six different countries: UK, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Ukraine, and Russia. Hummingbird collects imagery of arable fields from satellites, planes, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and then analyses these images using machine learning techniques. From this they can create crop specific maps which provide actionable information to farmers. Hummingbird’s technology allows its customers to increase their yields, optimise chemical inputs, and make earlier, more informed decisions. Their mission is to improve the efficiency of global crop production and to feed the world’s growing population sustainably. Slanted Theory Slanted Theory is a Sheffield-based startup which offers companies the ability to visualise their operational geospatial data. The company offers an intuitive interface which allows users the ability to collaborate with team members and perform specialised analysis without the need to code. This is in part enabled by the use of virtual reality (VR) headsets which helps users to create 3D visualisation of geospatial data – a more efficient way than is possible on a 2D screen. Part of the company’s vision for immersive technology is to communicate geospatial data through storytelling. For example, Slanted Theory used its VR data visualisation to display 100 years worth of UK rainfall data.
Want to learn more about geospatial technologies in the UK? Read the full report ‘Future Technologies Review’ here.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Chris Worsey, co-founder of Coursematch, speaks to PUBLIC about why he started Coursematch and how joining the GovStart 2019 cohort will help them on their journey to transform the university application process.
Why did you start Coursematch – what problem are you trying to solve?
Coursematch started because we found that the journey to university needs reinvention. Discovering, communicating, applying, and choosing a university has not changed in decades. Now is the time to embrace the vast advancements in technology and change student mindset to deliver a personalised, seamless service.
Tell us about your journey so far…
Coursematch was born in January 2017 on the day I met Joe Perkins. We shared the core value that education transforms lives and access to education in turn needed to be transformed. Our research showed that prospective students only looked at seven different courses before making a critical decision about their course. Given there are 36,000 higher education courses in the UK alone, we could clearly see that students needed inspiration to see the full view of their opportunity.
Just a few months later we launched the Coursematch App. We provide a Course Search for prospective students with an experience that grows with them using machine learning matching to recommend and personalise courses. The swipe-based app helps students quickly assess their options and refine their shortlist. Since launch, over 1.5 million course cards have been viewed, with the average user discovering over one hundred each on their journey. Powered by user data, since launch we have developed the app with 45 updates to constantly be tuned to the student experience.
“Given there are 36,000 higher education courses in the UK alone, we could clearly see that students needed inspiration to see the full view of their opportunity.”
The next step on our journey was to bring universities and students together. We launched our Connect platform in June 2019 to deliver just that. Universities can send tailored push communications and live chat to students with sophisticated targeting that builds a meaningful connection for all. The reception from universities has been overwhelming, with ten universities joining our paid pilot in the last few weeks. Our pioneers will join us for six months with forty hours of feedback each to help us refine the self-service analytics and marketing platform. We’ll be taking our next batch of universities on in October 2019.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a revolutionary direct application system. Coursematch challenges the 50 year old legacy status quo with an innovative and disruptive platform that fully manages students from enquiry to enrolment. Our higher education advisory group of 25 University Directors are helping us craft our revolution.
What do you hope to get out of the GovStart 2019 programme?
GovStart is proving really valuable to Coursematch. The programme is certain to amplify and accelerate our success. The GovStart influence is helping us reach top level meetings with key influencers, policy makers, and government ministers. The support helps us tell the Coursematch story and there is authentic political buy in to our project, especially around fair, free and full access to higher education.
What are the next steps for Coursematch?
Our next steps forward mirror the steps we have taken to this point – listen to our customers, clients, and partners to refine our current services and revolutionise with our emerging ones. Building a new full UK undergraduate admissions platform to challenge the current process has never been done before. So, we are growing our team, we are growing our client base, and we are growing our ambition to deliver a difference in access to education.
“We are growing our team, we are growing our client base, and we are growing our ambition to deliver a difference in access to education.”
How has the university admissions process changed since you applied?
I think the problem is that the process has not changed that much since I applied. The only change you can feel is that the price paid by students to window shop higher education has risen consistently, now £24. For some, that can be the difference between considering the opportunity of higher education and missing out entirely. For the price, paper forms have moved to web forms without rethinking the art of putting the student at the centre. In the era of big data, machine learning, and mobile first products, the admissions process looks antiquated and out of touch with the modern student. The world is changing fast and we think it’s time university admissions changed with it.
Looking forward – what do you see for the future of EdTech?
In the past 12 months there has been a renewed interest in EdTech worldwide. Investors and entrepreneurs have awoken to the huge opportunity to use technology to streamline outdated systems, out-innovate the status quo and build innovative student focused services. You only need to look at start-ups such as Lambda School, Unibuddy and Outschool to see how dynamic the sector is and how interesting the space is to investors. We’re driving forwards so Coursematch can be part of this moment in history of high impact, innovative EdTech start-ups.
To take a closer look at PUBLIC’s GovStart 2019 cohort – click here.
Tenacity Beats Talent Every Time: An interview with Stephen Bourke, co-founder of Echo
Stephen Bourke, co-founder of Echo, speaks to PUBLIC about why he started Echo and what’s changed in healthtech since then.
When Stephen co-founded Echo, he was told it couldn’t be done and people didn’t need their product. Now, the healthcare app – regularly listed amongst the UK’s leading startups – delivers repeat prescriptions to over 50,000 users, and has most recently has been acquired by McKesson, a leading healthcare organisation which includes LloydsPharmacy. We spoke to co-founder Stephen Bourke about the next step in their journey, how attitudes have evolved since starting the company, and where the next big challenges lie for healthcare.
How does it feel to have reached the finish line? Is this a finish line for you?
Quite the opposite. This deal means Echo can scale and impact the lives of millions of patients across the UK. What drives us is improving medicines adherence, helping patients get and take their meds. This means providing people with choice – some prefer to visit a pharmacy in person, others want meds delivered to their office. Our tie-up with LloydsPharmacy enables us to serve more patients in more ways, so we’re very excited.
What are things that surprised you, or you didn’t expect, about having your startup acquired?
It’s humbling to think that something my co-founder Sai Lakshmi and I started in Joe and the Juice could make it this far. Before we started a lot of people told me it couldn’t be done, that there wasn’t a user need. I’m glad we ignored them and found backing from investors like PUBLIC.
Why did you start Echo? What was the problem you were trying to solve?
We both take repeat prescriptions, so we started Echo to make our lives easier and stop monthly visits to the GP. It wasn’t until later that we realised that if you make it easier for people to get meds, they are more likely to take them, improving medicines adherence. This helps people live healthier, longer lives and, at scale, can save the NHS billions.
How far do you think you’ve got in solving this problem?
We’re only getting started. Over 75% of Echo users are adherent based on one measure, and across all meds, adherence was 88%. But in a recent patient survey, almost 30% of respondents had forgotten to take their medicine in the last two weeks. Making it easy for people to get medicine is the first step – now we need to figure out how to help them manage it.
How has the NHS changed since you founded Echo? Do you think the government is more willing to accept GovTech now than when you started Echo?
The NHS definitely has a better understanding of GovTech, our value and what needs to be true for us to succeed. Matthew Gould’s appointment and the creation of NHSX has been particularly useful. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint and what happens in Whitehall and Skipton House takes time to disseminate across CCGs and Trusts.
What do you see as the big challenges in healthcare that the next Echo will need to solve? What will they need to do to solve it?
There are lots to choose from, but I would like to say ‘dulltech’ – big, difficult infrastructure and interoperability projects that struggle to capture most journalists’ imagination but are so, so important to unlock the promise of HealthTech. For instance, a platform that gives hospitals access to GP records would be transformational; or an API to translate the health data patients create into information clinicians can trust, understand and action. We have lots of endpoints across the system – the challenge is to make them talk to each other. Think Open Banking for health.
What advice would you give to early GovTech founders?
Shaping a digital Lithuania: the GovTech Lab launch
Virginijus Sinkevicius, Lithuania’s Minister for Economy and Innovation, writes a guest article for us on the launch of Lithuania’s GovTech Lab: an initiative to foster and support the GovTech ecosystem in Lithuania.
Many believe that being an old democracy is an advantage for a state. I have the opposite view. Lithuania is a relatively young democratic country and that gives us ambition to innovate and employ a challenge-solving attitude to make changes faster, both in the public sector and in society.
While change in society and business is talked about often, we recognise that it must also be embraced by the public sector. In order for government to become a 21st century institution, we have to become more flexible and to create processes for government to partake in compartmentalised experimentation. We’ve taken steps towards creating an innovative public sector environment with the launch of Lithuania’s GovTech Lab, which aims to encourage young, innovative businesses and academics to develop, test and commercialise solutions that solve public sector challenges.
The GovTech Lab, an initiative led by the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation and the Create Lithuania program, aims to foster the country’s burgeoning GovTech ecosystem and to serve as a competence centre intended to enhance the innovativeness of the public sector. The Lab encourages startups, SMEs and academics to test their technology-based ideas with the public sector under real-time conditions. Lithuania currently has about 600 startups, some of which are leading GovTech startups like Trafi and Oxipit.
We have already observed part of the potential that the GovTech Lab holds. For example, the Lab is helping shift cultural norms inside government. We recognise that expertise in emerging technologies does not necessarily lie within the public sector, and the Lab allows institutions to raise challenges that they do not have answers to. Additionally, the Lab serves as a connector between the public, private and third sector that encourages us to look at public sector problems differently. Strengthened networks for the sharing of knowledge facilitate the creation of new solutions that maximise societal benefits and make the government more efficient and open.
During the GovTech Lab’s challenge series, public sector institutions distill and announce a challenge that can be solved more efficiently with an innovative technology-based solution and that is not necessarily available on the market. Four public sector institutions signed a memorandum of understanding and will be the Lab’s pioneer collaborators in the challenge series. These institutions include: Ministry of the Economy and Innovation, Bank of Lithuania, Lithuanian Energy Company Group, Lithuania Travel, Kaunas 2022 (the agency overseeing Kaunas’ preparations to become Europe’s cultural capital that year).
During a meeting with the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai, I invited him to join this initiative in Lithuania. I invite readers of this article to join as well. We recognise the importance of learning from international best practices and sharing our insights along the way to create innovative solutions in government that bring meaningful change across borders.